The iPod is over. The brand that defined music players in the mid-2000s and helped catapult Apple to mainstream success will no longer exist.
We decided to write down some of the memories we had of using the music players because we wanted to reflect on how important the device was in our lives. We have scars from these things getting destroyed or going missing.
Our memories of buying iPods, rediscovering them, nurturing them back to life, and sometimes just losing them are here.
I have two iPod stories, one about the first one I ever got and the other about the last one I purchased.
As soon as I saw the ad for the fourth-gen iPod Nano, I decided to buy it, even though my first mp3 player was a 2GB Walkman. I spent months scrounging together allowances, money from mowing lawns, and gift cards because I was 12 and had a lot of money. I picked out a blue one when I walked into the store. I was about to get my first mp3 player.
The greatest act of kindness I’d experienced in my young life
I was short a few dollars and hadn't considered sales tax. The cashier must have realized how shattered I was because they offered to cover the rest in what was almost certainly the greatest act of kindness I had ever experienced. The iPod's battery no longer holds a charge, but I still have it.
I was a stereotypical techy teen with a jailbroken iPod Touch. I was unable to restore the iPod back to working condition after uninstalling something that was essential using the Cydia tool. After a few months, I decided to take the device out of my closet and restore it. It worked, and my iPod was back to running stock.
The next day, as I was getting out of my minivan, it slid out of my pocket and fell onto the concrete, shattering the screen. Mitchell Clark said goodbye to a real one.
The first thing I ever owned was the iPod. I had a bunch of crappy mp3 players, a Diamond Rio and an Archos Jukebox, but then I bought a gold iPod Mini. It held four gig of music, which felt like less than some of its competitors, but it was tiny and fast, and it felt like magic. It didn't skip every time the car hit abump like a bunch of the other hard drive-based players I had.
The Mini was stolen from my high school parking lot. I can still picture where my car was parked, the weather, and the moment I discovered it was gone. I went back to my other devices because I couldn't afford another one, all of which seemed lousy even though they held more music. It felt like I still had an iPod if I kept the white headphones. The thing skipped tracks after I hit a pothole.
The first iPod I owned was the fifth-gen iPod Video. The first-gen iPod came out in my freshman year of high school, and I watched enviously as all the rich kids showed theirs off between classes. In my junior year, I created a powerpoint for my dad detailing my high school achievements. I was resigned to my fate after my dad didn't say anything.
A few weeks later, a package from Apple arrived at our door, and I was completely surprised. My dad had a smirk on his face. He knew I was a goth teen so he made the black version. He wished he would stop being goth with every fiber of his being, but this was not the case. I loaded that baby up with as many movies and songs as it would hold because my dad was a quiet man. It was my companion when I commuted to school. It was what I turned to when my parents broke up.
Something about my poor, loyal iPod Video lying shattered on a sidewalk made me tear up
You could say something about the teens who listen to emo music when their parents split up. It was comforting to slip on my headphones and listen to my music.
I dropped my iPod Video on the sidewalk because it split open. I was over its buggy interface and click wheel that didn't want to cooperate anymore. I wanted an iPod Touch. I teared up when I saw my iPod Video lying shattered on the sidewalk.
I kept it in a box for a long time. I couldn't throw it out. When I cleaned out my junk in 2018, I found it that I had forgotten about. When I was missing my dad most, he gave me one of the most precious gifts he had ever given me, a reminder of how much he loved me even if he couldn't express it. Maybe it was my dad who was comforting me that day.
My story is similar to David's. My first mp3 player was a Rio that only held a few songs, and I have a strong recollection of one of the James Bond theme songs. My iPod Mini was a huge upgrade. It was fun to use, and it could hold more songs than my Rio. I miss the scroll wheel. I don't know if I put that James Bond song on it. It's one of my favorite devices, and I wish I still had it.
I think the iPod Mini aided in some hearing loss when it was my first iPod. I used it every day, tucked into my waistband, and used it to drum to the beat of my favorite music as I was learning how to play, a hobby that aided in my hearing loss. When I had to mow our lawn every week, the chore that probably contributed to hearing loss was joined by this iPod. I have no tales to tell about my ownership of this iPod, other than it went everywhere with me and did its job as a no-nonsense music player that also had Brick Game built-in.
My first iPod was bought by my mom to cheer me up, and it was the very first iPod. I was excited to have an mp3 player that worked out of the box, and to have so much storage on one device. It was plugged into one of those terrible tape decks and sometimes into one of those terrible radio transmitters. Having all my music in one place took the sting out of the loss of my favorite sleeve of mix CDs in a Dillard's parking lot.
It vanished one day. It was not in any of my purses. It was not in my car. It was not in my bedroom. I was home on summer break and it was not in my dorm room. It was gone. I replaced it with a cheaper iPod Shuffle that wasn't nearly as good. I've wondered if my brother took it so he could look cool.
The results of my investigation were not conclusive.
The first iPod I ever owned was the 40GB click wheel model. I bought it off eBay. My favorite thing about it was not the large storage space, the shiny finish, or the plain cool factor. The iTrip accessory was my favorite thing about it. It looked like a water tank that plugged into the headphones, but also looked like an extension of the iPod. Since it ran off the iPod battery, I was able to jump into a friend's car and have them tune to 87.9, which was great since many cars didn't have an aux jack.
I knew I had to have it when the iPod with video came out. I bought my first Apple product after selling my iPod on eBay, a black fifth-generation iPod. I took the iPod to a mall kiosk that applied clear vinyl protectors, which was a big mistake. They used a razor blade to scratch the iPod wheel. I sold it on eBay at a loss because they didn't take responsibility for it. I couldn't get myself to buy a new Apple device for a long time, but I was able to play music on Windows Mobile devices and a Game Boy accessory that came with a 32 bit version of the mp3 player.
I hated Apple products when I was a kid because I was a big fan of gaming and PCs. I was against the early iPods in favor of my Discman. The embodiment of this comic strip was me. I didn't use an iPod for the longest time, but I did listen to the rhetoric about them not having good sound quality. My eyes were trained on weird players from other brands when I downloaded mp3s. It's fitting that an annoying PC fan would think of intel!
I loved it despite its flawed, buttonless design
I couldn't afford any of them in high school, but in college, I got a Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen that was basically a laptop hard drive in an ugly plastic shell. It was like a small tank of cheap storage that got me mocked at a friend's drunken basement party when it was my turn to plug into the speakers. I was secretly envious of their sleek iPods and did not talk shit to them. Nope, not at all.
When I started using Macs in my college photography classes, my strong and misguided opinions toward Apple's products began to change, and I picked up my first and only iPod, a lime green third-gen iPod Shuffle. I bought it on eBay for cheap, but it didn't work out. Despite its flawed design, I loved it. I still have it, and if I ever find the annoying 3.5mm tousb charging point, I will power it on and see if I can remember the ear bud button sequence.
Maybe I shouldn't cringe because I don't know what the future holds.
My sister gave me my first iPod. It was a black iPod Classic filled with angsty songs that 7th graders probably shouldn't have had access to. The most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off is at the disco.
The little machine was with me through my most awkward phase. Things didn't change when I got my second-gen blue iPod. I plugged it into the family computer and loaded it with my sister's collection of emo songs from iTunes, getting myself a copy of all the P!ATD, The Academy Is, and Taking Back Sunday songs a preteen girl could hope for.
My iPod is collecting dust in my parents house. I hope you are comfortable in the blue socks I bought you.